THUNDER – Please Remain Seated (Album Review)

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Thunder - Please Remain SeatedSince Thunder‘s comeback in 2011, the band has been on fire with exceptional live shows, two exceptional studio albums (Wonder Days in 2015 and Rip it Up in 2017), and a live album, Stage, last year. Last Christmas the band released a Christmas single and as part of the release, they re-recorded their classic ballad, “Love Walked In”. The band was so excited by the experience, they decided to release a full album of reimagined tracks covering their entire career.

Thunder‘s influences have always been broad. Their infamous Christmas concerts are full of unique covers from a range of artists. Please Remain Seated has sparks of jazz, funk, honky tonk, and soul. The performances on the album show just how talented the band is.

From the honky-tonk rendition of the opening track, “Bigger Than Both Of Us”, you can tell this is going to be a unique experience. “Bigger Than Both Of Us” was originally an unreleased track from their second album, Laughing At Judgement Day. It was first released on a compilation album, The Rare, The Raw And The Rest, then later added as bonus content for the reissue of their sophomore album. I love that they are pulling this deep track out for this album. The next track is “Future Train” from their third album, Behind Closed Doors. The track really shines with Moroccan flare in the intro leading to a more fleshed out and expansive than the original with expanded piano and background choir vocals, making the track more poignant than the original.

“The Girl’s Going Out Of Her Head”, is probably the biggest departure stylistically on the album. The original track is a balls-out rocker from Thunder‘s debut, Backstreet Symphony, but this time it’s a jazzy lounge number! It’s almost hilarious to listen to the difference.

No one does ballads better than Thunder and the fourth track, “I’m Dreaming Again”, is a prime example. Another deep cut from their album, The Magnificent Seventh!, the band breathes new life into the track with an acoustic rendition showcasing Danny Bowes‘ timeless vocals. Next up is “Fly On The Wall”, where we see the band add some twinges of reggae to the mix. “Fly On The Wall” is the second track from Behind Closed Doors.

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One of my favorite albums is the underrated Giving the Game Away. It’s represented on Please Remain Seated by “Just Another Suicide (You Wanna Know)”, the leadoff track from the album. This time they revisit the track in a way that sounds a bit like “Gimme Shelter”, which coincidentally the band covered a few years ago. Danny shares vocals between guitarist, Luke Morley, and a female vocalist. The song has an eery tension as it keeps building throughout then just cuts quick. “Empty City”, from Laughing At Judgment Day, is given a bluesy noir swing featuring a really cool Hammond solo.

At moments, there are cuts in the album when you get to hear the band chatter, lending to the relaxed feel. That’s how “Miracle Man” opens and the track has a loose raw bluesy feel with the injection of choir vocals again, adding to the preacher man theme of the song. This has to be one of my favorites as it really expands the original theme of the track. “Miracle Man” was from Bang!, their final album before their current reformation. We then get a double shot of tracks from the same album, Shooting At The Sun, their first reunion album. “Blown Away”, is another brilliant ballad that starts slow and builds with hand claps followed by a tom rhythm by Harry James and Luke‘s harmonica work. There’s a lot of layers to “Blow Away” with tons of keys and organ work. Rounding out the double shot is the lead track from Shooting At The Sun, “Loser”, a mid-tempo rocker that has been transformed into a bluesy ballad.

“She’s So Fine” is one of the very first songs I ever heard from Thunder as the opening track of Backstreet Symphony so I was excited to see what they did with it. They change it up to be a tapestry of sounds. The track has a jangly feel and they seem to throw everything into it with honky-tonk guitars, Hammond organs and bringing back the gospel chorus. The album closer is “Low Life In High Places”, a ballad that was their biggest charting hit. The revision expounds the dramatic theme of the song, adding elements like a soulful trumpet in the verses, the whole band joining in as a choir. The song builds and swells with orchestra theatrics highlighted with massive piano solos.

This album is a gem for any hardcore Thunder fan. They’ll get back to making great blues-based hard rock soon enough but for now, we get an excellent album full of deviations and experimentations. The album is available in a variety of formats and bundles. (I personally recommend the Deluxe CD. It comes with a bonus disc with seven additional tracks…)

Please Remain Seated is out now on the BMG Rights Management (UK) label.

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